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Four Most Influential Lean Books

Recently, I reviewed The Lean Turnaround by Art Byrne.  The book was excellent and really struck a cord with me.  So while writing the review, I paused for reflection about what are the lean books that have influenced me the most and why.  I came up with a distinct list of four books.  Below is the list in order that I read them and why it had such an impact on me.

  • The Toyota Way By Jeffrey Liker – This was the first book on lean that I read.  Of course, right?  It is the foundation of everything else.  All the principles clicked instantly with me.  The book showed me that others are doing it a better way.
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean By Jamie Flinchbaugh & Andy Carlino – I read this book after learning and implementing lean for about 4 years.  The book took everything I had read from the internet and been implementing and organized it in a way that really made sense to me.  The principles allowed me to organize my thoughts and actions.  This allowed me to become a better coach/teacher/trainer.
  • Better Thinking, Better Results By Bob Emiliani – This book was a great case study of how you can transform every aspect of a company.  Not just manufacturing, but HR, Sales, and Finance.  It showed how using lean to become more efficient can free up cash to grow or pay down debt.  Great case study that really reinforced that lean can be done anywhere and should be.
  • The Lean Turnaround By Art Byrne – This book reinforces what I learned from “Better Thinking, Better Results” but Art also laid out actions to be taken to have a successful lean turnaround.  Art stresses and demonstrates the importance of having the top leadership engaged in the work and not just supporting the work.  It was the first book I read that is designed for executive leadership.

Deeper reflection leads me to recommend reading these books in this order for anyone that hasn’t read any of them.  It has a nice progression to understanding what lean is and what are some guiding principles to understanding how effective lean is when done throughout the entire organization and finally the need for executive leadership and how to lead a lean turnaround.

What lean/business books have influenced you?

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Whitepaper – Comparing Lean Principles & 14 Toyota Principles

In 2010, I segmented a whitepaper (part 1, part 2, part 3) I had written comparing the Lean Principles I have learned from the Lean Learning Center to the 14 Toyota Principles.

The whitepaper explains how the 14 Toyota Principles bring to life one or more of the Lean Principles.  It breaks down each Toyota Principle and shows which Lean Principles are brought to life and how.

The whitepaper is available fore download in the Downloads section of the Beyond Lean.

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2012 – 5 Thru 1

2013 is now in full swing.  Before 2012 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2012.

New followers of the blog can use this as an opportunity to read posts they might have not seen in the past.  While, long time followers can use this as an opportunity to re-read some of the top viewed posts.

This post will count down the 10th thru 6th most viewed posts of 2012.  Enjoy!

5.  Sportscenter Has Killed U.S. Manufacturing (June 2012) – Previous Year Ranked #3 – Manufacturing is fundamental.  The U.S. has lost it’s sights on the fundamentals and is just worried about the flashy.  The U.s. needs to get back to the fundamentals in order to get back on top.

4.  Need the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (February 2012) – Inspiration of a Navy SEAL got me thinking about the mental toughness it takes to create change.

3.  5S in the Office (September 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – Most viewed post for two straight years now.  A look at using 5S in the office.  What is going too far and how to use 5S in the office properly.

2.  Keys to Sustaining 5S (September 2011) – Tips to help sustain (the 5th ‘S’) the gains made from implementing 5S.

AND……

1.  Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #2 – Exploring the question as to why lean people are not seen as more than just lean experts.  Looking at a process from end-to-end seems like a good business practice no matter what the role.

I look forward to more posts in 2013!

Top 6 – 10 of 2012

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2012 – Lean Blitz

At the end of the year, John Hunter does a great job of facilitating an annual roundup of business and lean blogs at Curious Cat Management.  The roundup is a review of blogs by other bloggers.  This year I have the honor of participating in the Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.

Lean_Blitz_logo

A blog that I discovered this year was Lean Blitz written by Chad Walters.  Chad is a student of the Toyota Principles and he does a great job of explaining each principle in a separate blog post.  Each post has an example of the principle that can be seen in everyday life.  If you are not familiar with the Toyota Principles I would suggest checking out Chad’s posts on the all 14 Toyota Principles.

Chad uses his business background to write about lean in business like the overproduction Domino’s Pizza has in their stores with all the pre-built pizza boxes.  He also points out how Domino’s can use standardized work toe fold the boxes in the most efficient way like the worker in the TV advertisement.

Chad also shows how the Toyota Principles can help small businesses in a practical way.

A unique perspective that Chad brings is his experience in working with professional sports teams and organizations.  He does a great job of relating the Toyota Principles to happenings in the sporting world.  The Miami Marlins inability to think long-term in order to achieve their goals is a fantastic post about Toyota Principle #1.

Being a very large St. Louis Cardinals fan, I really enjoyed the post about the filth at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs).  Chad uses data sited from studies and then relates it to having a good 5S program in place and using visual management.  The morale increases everyone is happier.  Is this the reason the Cubs can’t win?

Chad talks about other lean concepts such as long lead times and how sporting organizations are losing revenue due to long lead times.  Texas A&M got off to a great start in football this past season and their quarterback, Johnny Manziel played well enough to be in the discussion as a Heisman finalist as the best college football player.  The university had long lead times on the jerseys for Manziel and ended up leaving a lot of cash on the table and fans unhappy when they couldn’t get one.

Chad has created a unique blog at Lean Blitz.  It is a fun and different way to demonstrate lean principles in action in any environment.

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2011 – 5 Thru 1

2012 is now in full swing.  Before 2011 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2011.

New followers of the blog can use this as an opportunity to read posts they might have not seen in the past.  While, long time followers can use this as an opportunity to re-read some of the top viewed posts.

This post will count down the 10th thru 6th most viewed posts of 2011.  Enjoy!

5.  Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #2 – The first part of a three part series where I compared the lean principles I learned from the Lean Learning Center to the Toyota Principles.  This post covers the first five Toyota Principles.

4.  Seth Godin and Failing Better (April 2011) – This post dives into a post from Seth Godin talking about how to fail so you learn faster and use that to your advantage.

3.  Sportscenter Has Killed U.S. Manufacturing (June 2011) – Manufacturing is fundamental.  The U.S. has lost it’s sights on the fundamentals and is just worried about the flashy.  The U.s. needs to get back to the fundamentals in order to get back on top.

2.  Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – Exploring the question as to why lean people are not seen as more than just lean experts.  Looking at a process from end-to-end seems like a good business practice no matter what the role.

AND……

1.  5S in the Office (September 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – Most viewed post for two straight years now.  A look at using 5S in the office.  What is going too far and how to use 5S in the office properly.

I look forward to more posts in 2012!

Top 6 – 10 of 2011

Pushing to Failure

When testing a product, I was taught to test it until it failed.  When it fails, learn why it failed and make the product better.  Instead, we test the bare minimum.  What are the specs we need to pass? When we pass those minimum requirements, stop testing.  The product is consider a success at this point.  There is no need to go any further.  Then it is used in the field in a way that was not anticipated and it fails.  Whereas, if we tested the product to failure, we might have seen this and prevented it from happening.  Then the product is used in the field in the unanticipated manner but it is still successful.

Why isn’t that approach taken more often with our processes or our thinking?  Push our process or thinking until it fails.  When it does fail, use it as a learning opportunity to improve.  Looking back, the failures I had were some of the best lessons I have learned.

When I was in the auto industry, two of us were tasked with training and implementing a plant wide pull system in about 6 weeks.  Neither of us had ever implemented a pull system.  We had to develop the training, and then train 550 employees 6 at a time.  We got to check the box, but we had some big issues with the system itself.  We fixed the system as we went and it ended up working well.  That initial system failure and learning has been invaluable as I have helped implement other pull systems at other companies.

This way of thinking ties in with Toyota Principle #1: “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.” If we are practicing this principle, then a failure now that causes significant learning for the future will help us develop processes that are more efficient, robust, or just plain better for the future.

I believe that more than ever we need to pushing our processes and thinking all the way to failure.  The ones who do this best will be big winners coming out of the economic downturn as well as receive more business that is returning from overseas.  Why?  Because the companies pushing the limits on their processes and thinking will better understand their capabilities, processes, and people more than the ones who didn’t push themselves.

Why don’t we push our processes and our thinking to the point of failure?  Are we afraid of people perceiving us failures, instead of innovators?  There is a lot of pressure put on us to succeed and succeed quickly.  But are we getting the opportunities we need to push the limits?  How do we overcome the fear of failing……….and the perception of being a failure?  How do we get our companies to embrace failure as good thing?  If and only if we use that failure to learn and improve so we can push our limits further.

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